Today is my first day back at work. I spent the weekend preparing for the day by sitting in the sunshine, drinking coffee, deadheading rose bushes and switching back on the part of my brain that thinks about work. And remembering how to walk in high heels.
The new year looms ahead. It’s huge. There are things to finish from last year and lots of new projects waiting to begin. And starting fresh with a clean slate and thinking strategically about how to get things done is important.
I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions. I’m lousy at committing to anything remotely healthy, so there is no point in trying to promise to do something that I’ll do for two days, then stop doing and then feel bad at myself for not doing it anymore.
I don’t really want to use the New Year to focus on diabetes by concentrating on particular tasks or specific measures. Outcomes seem to be organic and setting goals, while a noble gesture, often lead to disappointment. Feeling like a failure is not how I want to begin the year!
But I do like the idea of embracing the New Year and cracking open its spine, revealing clean pages and new beginnings.
Australian writer and publisher, Mia Freeman, shared that last year, she came up with a word that would help draw her attention to her plans for the year ahead, and has done the same for this year.
I like this idea – the thought of having some sort of directive that would be an overarching theme for decision making and planning, and would, hopefully, mean that I ended the year feeling a success rather than just a shattered and weary mess.
Because I have found myself pretty exhausted at the end of the last few years. I know everyone is – we get to a point where we are just done and need a break. I felt as though I was burnt out with life when I went on leave, and the much needed holiday was about getting back to a place where I felt I could tackle what lay ahead.
With this in mind, I wanted my word to help me avoid that burn out, so that come the end of the year, the exhaustion I felt was not so overwhelming.
So, I spent some of the time we were in New York auditioning words, trying them out, rolling them around on my tongue and hearing them in my mind, thinking what they could mean for me throughout 2017. As I walked around the snowy streets, I projected how I wanted to feel at the end of this year and what I would need to get there.
The word I have settled on is pause.
As soon as I said it, I knew it was the right word. I wrote it down, over and over, thinking about how it could shape and help plan my year. I wrote it on scraps of paper and shoved them into my purse and handbag to remind me. And the minute I walked into my office this morning, I wrote it on a post-it and stuck it to my wall.
Pause doesn’t mean that I will be stopping anything I’m doing. It doesn’t even necessarily mean I’ll be cutting back. But it does mean that before committing to anything new, continuing with something old or exploring different ways of doing things, I will pause and think about why and how I am doing it.
The tendency to simply say yes to everything serves no one – the results are me not doing things as well as I might like or feeling disappointed with the end result.
I also am seeing how I can adapt the word to suit my diabetes management. I think that too often, I am on autopilot, not really thinking about what it is that I am doing. To pause means giving meaning to actions, attention to decision making and focus to the way I choose to manage my diabetes. Jumping on a bandwagon because it has been written up in a few different diabetes magazines – without pausing to consider if it is right for me – really makes no sense. I am very guilty of wanting, needing the latest toy without necessarily stopping to think if it will serve any purpose.
There is already a lot in the calendar for 2017 – all the way through to its end with the IDF’s World Diabetes Congress rounding out the busy year in December. I’m the Deputy Stream Lead for the Living with Diabetes Stream, so there is no chance of slowing down as the year winds down.
So, with all this in mind, my word for the year is going to help shape how I approach things. I’ll have to see how it goes and I expect I’ll need to pull myself back at times, reminding myself to stop, think and, perhaps, wait. And then, as I pause, take the time to let things sink in, catch up and take shape.